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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  August 13, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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no one is talking about his payday. >> he has been killing it. >> he has been doing so well. >> thanks for joining us. remember giants baseball tonight on nbc bay area. giants and nationals at 7:00. tonight, the new emergency from a devastating wave of explosions. apocalyptic new images like a war zone, fears about what's in the air. a rising death toll in the urgent search for the missing. highest alert, amid new warnings of a vicious one-two punch, the most dangerous fire season ever and then what's being called a godzilla el nino. monster storms to follow. an alarming rise in the number of drones nearly crashing into planes. growing concerns of an air disaster. now the fed's taking aim. what's behind the soaring cost of prescription drugs, some doubling in price. tonight, how you can fight back. and the "sesame street"
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surprise, brought to you by the letters h, b and o. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. the images coming out of tianjin, china are of breathtaking devastation. part of that city is a blackened wasteland, virtually destroyed by two enormous industrial explosions seen and felt for miles around. right now the death toll already well into the dozens is still rising. many people are still missing, and the search and recovery is being carried out amid serious concerns over what's in the air. nbc's ian williams is there and has more on this unfolding disaster. >> reporter: it's a scene of utter devastation. fires still burning, smoke still rising, more than 24 hours after this. new video shows the first blast light up the sky over tianjin followed by a far more
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powerful explosion captured on cell phone from a nearby apartment building until a photographer retreats in terror. among the american eyewitnesss, english teacher drew. >> all of a sudden there is a loud, like a shockwave sound. the first thing people thought it was was an earthquake. >> reporter: daybreak revealed what looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. shipping containers scattered, broken glass and debris everywhere. the death toll is now past 50. dozens are still missing. 1,000 firefighters responded to the blaze, at least 12 died. hospitals are overwhelmed with the injured, hundreds of them desperate for medical care but beds were in short supply. the cause of the blast is still unknown. it happened at a company that stored hazardous chemicals including sodium cyanide,
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raising fears of an ongoing toxic threat. chinese officials cordoned off the blast area, but the damage extends well beyond. this office building was hit with the full force of the blast yet here we're about a mile, mile and a half from the explosion. at this depot, all 94 buses were destroyed. the ghostly buildings beyond have been abandoned. too damaged, too dangerous. a local clock frozen in time. >> oh, no! >> reporter: marking a deadly moment this busy port city will never forget. good morning, lester, it's shortly after daybreak friday here and as you can see behind me, the fire is still burning. this is a city in shock, but also, a city in fear of the potential toxic threat from this smoke. >> ian williams in china, thank you. in this country, warnings tonight of a one-two punch from nature that could devastate parts of the west already in the midst of a historic drought emergency. today fire officials
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raised the threat level to the highest fire danger possible, and that move comes as forecasters warned of what's being called a godzilla el nino event this winter that could trigger some of the strongest storms we've seen in decades. miguel almaguer reports. >> reporter: this is what they call level five. the highest fire danger rating in the nation triggered today. the drastic move signals tinderbox conditions on the verge of exploding. this year of extremes feeding on each other, fire fueled by crippling drought exacerbated by a heat wave. and now the forecast calls for a monster el nino this winter. storms capable of triggering floods, mudslides and mayhem. >> we had four-year record drought. we had late spring rains, and now we're seeing conditions that firefighters have never seen. >> reporter: for now, the biggest threat on the fire lines. this year already proving
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historic. nearly 40,000 fires torching 6.4 million acres. firefighters from every state mobilized and moving west. today the forest service launching two c-130s to drop retardant. while the 747 super tanker, the largest firefighting aircraft in the nation, moved into position in colorado springs. when fire season is finally over here, a new threat will begin. these drought-stricken hills will be ripe for mudslides if el nino predictions hold true. scientists say warming ocean waters are surging towards the u.s. with it, the potential for once-in-a-lifetime storms. this el nino could be among the most powerful ever. >> this is the godzilla el nino. if it matures and actually comes to fruition. great droughts always end in great floods. >> reporter: a year of extremes after an explosive start. miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles.
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it's a question of when, not if a drone strikes a plane in flight. we've been reporting in the growing danger for weeks and in fact, the faa says there is a dramatic increase in drones spotted flying near planes. and now the government is looking for ways to take some of the air out of the high-flying hobby. nbc's kristen welker has our report. >> reporter: it's the latest high-flying scare caused by a drone, a near miss with this medivac helicopter transporting a patient in fresno, california. >> we almost got hit by a drone. just to let you know. >> reporter: the pilot said the drone came within 15 feet. >> depending where it strikes us, it could have tragic consequences. >> reporter: according to a new faa report, the number of incidents like this has tripled. pilots reported at least 650 drone sightings so far this year. that's up from 238 sightings in all of 2014. >> we're not playing around here. this is a very promising technology, yes, but there is also the potential for great danger.
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>> reporter: drones have even be spotted at altitudes of 10,000 feet. the faa proposes new rules that would limit commercial drones to 500 feet. hobbyists are limited to 400 feet and violators could be subject to fines, criminal charges and even jail time but can the measures be enforced? >> we do have enforcement tools available to us and we will use them. >> reporter: drones have even been a problem for those battling wildfires out west. firefighters had to ground aerial operations while the burning continued. >> we want to remind drone operators, if you fly, we can't. >> reporter: with terrorists groups eyeing drones, they pose a potential threat to national security. in january, a drone landed on the white house lawn, a mistake by an intoxicated operator, but also a wake-up call. the military is testing how to counter a drone attack with close to 700,000 drones expected to be sold this year, it's a growing concern for pilots, law enforcement and the u.s. military. kristen welker, nbc
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news, washington. in connecticut today the state supreme court ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional. that means none of the prisoners on the state's death row can be executed, and a victim of two of those inmates who lost his wife and daughters in a savage home invasion that made national headlines says this evening that ruling is devastating. our justice correspondent pete williams reports. >> reporter: the crime was shockingly brutal. two men broke into the house of a connecticut doctor, william pettitte in 2007, beat and tied him up, forced his wife to withdraw money from their bank, raped her and killed her and their two daughters. ages 11 and 17. two were convicted and sentenced to death. then in 2012, connecticut abolished the death penalty but only for future crimes, not for any prisoners already sentenced to death. but today, the state supreme court declared the death penalty unconstitutional for all death row inmates.
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that means the two will spend life in prison with no possibility of release. tonight, in a written statement, before pettitte criticized the position, it has profound impact on the victims and loved ones. a point echoed today by their governor, dannel malloy. >> we have to keep in our minds how difficult this is for victims and victims' families. >> reporter: in today's ruling, the connecticut supreme court said capital punishment does not conform to contemporary standards of decency and work as a crime deterrent. >> because this is based on the state and not federal constitution, it's the last word and cannot be appealed to the u.s. supreme court. pete williams, nbc news, washington. to the race for president now, which for the next ten days is turning iowa into the center of the political universe. nearly every candidate is scheduled to appear at the state fair there and the ones getting some of the biggest buzz hail from far outside the beltway. we get more from nbc's andrea mitchell.
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>> reporter: at a state fair where cows are made of butter and everything tastes better fried. >> welcome to the first day of the iowa state fair. >> reporter: it's the anti-washington candidates who are gaining traction with voters. >> i think people are just tired of not getting anything done in washington. >> i think they are talking to the sense of frustration and anger about people not having jobs, people feeling insecure about the economy. >> reporter: in a new iowa poll, real estate mogul donald trump leads with 22%. followed by neurosurgeon ben carson at 14%, wisconsin governor scott walker at 9% and former business executive carly fiorina close behind at 7%. and 22% of those questioned even think trump has the best chance of winning and becoming president. >> president of the united states, donald j. trump! >> trump is just entertaining as hell and he comes in and acts like he's just going to be a wrecking ball to government as usual. >> reporter: it seems the best way to run this year is as an
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outsider. >> i've made it a point not to become obligated to special interest groups. for big money. >> they feel like even in washington republicans haven't been able to get the job done. >> reporter: the story is the same for the democrats. huge crowds for bernie sanders, a veteran congressman and senator but hardly a typical blow-dried politician with a populist appeal. >> this campaign is not a billionaire funded campaign, it is a people campaign. >> reporter: watching this from a family vacation in south carolina, joe biden, calling advisers as he wrestles with weath s with whe to jump in, grieving the loss of his son, beau, and friends say believing he is better qualified than hillary clinton to be president, but knowing how tough a race it would be. >> joe biden is one of the most straightforward and honest and connecting with people.
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he's incredible at that and so that i think is what he'll bring to the race. >> reporter: fueling the speculation about biden, a new hampshire poll this week showing bernie sanders ahead of hillary clinton for the first time. but the final decision for biden won't be about politics after his son's death, it will also be about what's best for his family, lester? >> andrea, thank you. word tonight from the carter center thanking supporters for well wishes after jimmy carter revealed he's been diagnosed with cancer that has spread in his body. among the messages today, one from a fellow former president bill clinton wishing him a speedy recovery. terrifying development in the middle east with several u.s. officials telling nbc news isis used chemical weapons twice in recent weeks in both iraq and syria. isis today claimed responsibility for the deadliest single bombing in baghdad in nearly a decade. at least 76 people were killed, more than 200 injured in the blast at a crowded market. isis fighters have remained on the attack in iraq and syria for months despite a barrage of u.s. and allied air strikes. most of the fighters are male
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but isis has women in the ranks to enforce the harsh rules isis says all women must live by. a fascinating report from our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel, who was able to meet several such women who escaped to tell their stories. >> reporter: these are the female enforcers of isis, the feared morality police. here in an isis-produced propaganda video, they claim to be training for battle. but in a safe house in turkey, we met three women who said they joined the same group and instead of fighting, their role was to oppress other women. they described how they would patrol raqqa, the isis capital in syria. "i would tour the markets, take part in raids and take women violating the dress code to the isis headquarters she told us. that's her during training. she told us she often personally punished women who
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isis said had strayed. there was a woman who violated the dress code, her cloak had a design on it, she says. they brought her to me, and i lashed her 40 times. nbc news obtained these rare images filmed recently in secret inside raqqa and smuggled out at great risk. isis fighters operate openly despite the u.s. bombing campaign. she was also an isis enforcer. the women say they grew to resent isis and its brutality. public executions, beheadings. a body would stay hung on the street so you'd have to pass it, she says. it was disgusting. they escaped to the relative safety of turkey. i know many women too scared to leave, she says, worried isis will find them in turkey and kill them. to the worrell, raqqa is known as ground zero in the
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world of isis. to the women, it's an oppressive prison where other women are the jailers. richard engel, nbc news, southern turkey. there is more to tell you about tonight. still ahead, the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs, a new report about just how much they are soaring and so many americans sparking outrage, how you can fight the price hikes. also, a heart-stopping crash caught on camera. a school bus full of children slams into a liquor store. the latest and how this happened.
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a new survey out today from consumer reports reveals a lot of americans are being hit by soaring prescription drug prices, and 75% of them say they have been forced to cut back in their spending including food in order to afford their medications. anne thompson takes a closer look. >> reporter: on both sides of the pharmacy counter, growing outrage. over rising prescription drug prices. >> you have to cut out something because you want to maintain your health. >> reporter: have you ever walked away from a prescription because the co-pay was too much? >> yes. >> reporter: really? >> yes. >> reporter: why? >> it just wasn't worth it to me. it just wasn't worth it. >> reporter: tough choices for an increasing number of people. a new consumer report survey finds one in three americans paid more for their prescription drugs in the past year. one in ten shelling out $100 or more from their own pocket. >> somebody has got to stop it. >> reporter: pharmacists alan is stuck between the drug manufacturers and fed-up consumers.
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>> this is the craziest price increase i've ever seen in my life. >> reporter: his whole sale price for this diabetes drug went from over $1,000 for 90 tablets in january to more than $10,000 in july. when you see this kind of price increase, do you pass this on to the consumer? >> it's automatically passed on. there is no choice. or i wouldn't be in business. >> reporter: in a statement to nbc news, the drug companies' trade association points the finger at insurance companies saying, "we have to make sure insurance does what it's intended to do." to save, consumer reports suggests first make sure your medicine is covered by your insurance. ask your doctor or pharmacist for a lower-cost option, and shop around for the best price. generic drugs have held down health care costs, but even some generic drugs have seen major price increases, as cindy jackson knows. >> i'm on generics to save money
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but it didn't work out that way. i feel like i'm held hostage. >> reporter: hostage to a system that's put both her health and family budget on the line. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. up next, the spectacular light show that had a lot of people up all night. also a sudden collapse at a famous american nightclub caught on tape.
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a frightening crash caught on tape in new jersey. a school bus packed with children slammed into a liquor store this morning. the bus driver told investigators that the brakes failed and that she lost control of the bus, hitting an suv before smashing into the store. 11 kids were taken to the hospital to be checked over, thankfully, no serious injuries. another scary scene, a partial roof collapse at first avenue, the legendary minneapolis nightclub sent concertgoers running for cover. three injured and inspectors are still trying to determine what caused the collapse and whether the entire building is structurally safe. one of
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summertime's best shows reaches its grand finale this evening. it's your last chance to catch the perseid meteor shower technically it peaked last night. with spectacular images in the sky like these captured by the uk meteor observation network. the annual shower is vivid this year because it's so close to the new moon. when we come back, why bert and ander ernie are moving to the home of tony soprano. next at 6: new ojectionsor
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an el nino winr. ===takvo=== ===peggyake vo===plus: how a 14a
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boy took on an iion battle - and n. ==ext close===the news is nt. finally tonight, a major change for a show treasured across the generations, big bird oscar and the rest of the "sesame street" gang are getting some new neighbors as hbo begins sweeping the clouds away from the beloved show's bottom line. here is nbc's kevin tibbles. ♪ tell me how to get ♪ how to get to sesame street ♪ >> reporter: fans of the beloved children's series will soon be taking a detour to get to "sesame street" from pbs where it's been a staple for 45 years to hbo, better known as the home of tony soprano and "game of thrones." "sesame street's" already parodied that with "game of chairs."
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>> what's this? >> reporter: and if you ever wanted to know how valuable the "sesame street" brand is to the toddlers of america, interview one. who is your favorite "sesame street" character? or at least try. 2-year-old david here enjoys breakfast with his favorite character. what's a cookie monster waffle taste like? >> blueberry. >> reporter: despite its enduring popularity, "sesame street" need says the money from hbo. in exchange, new episodes will air first on hbo nine months later for free on pbs. >> kermit the frog was a big character in our house and, you know, it's fun to pass that on to the next generation. >> these were friends that i could go back to day after day. >> reporter: for the gang on "sesame street" today's new lerlts are -- >> hbo.
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>> reporter: for fans old and young, we all want the same thing. >> i want cookies. >> i want cookies. >> cookie! >> reporter: kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. that will do it for us on a thursday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. nbc bay area news starts now. >> this is the godzilla el nino. if it mars. >> godzilla could be on our doorstep. torrential rains and flooding. scientists are predicting this year's el nino is on track to becoming one of the most powerful on record. good even. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm peggy bunker in for jessica aguirre. we begin with the latest predictions for wet winter weather. just today the national weather service says that we have a 90% chance of a significant el nino
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rain event this winter. one that could last longer than expected. but will it make much of a difference in this drought? tonight we have team coverage on this topic. chief meteorologist jeff ranieri is standing by with the conditions brewing in the pacific. first we start with nbc bay area scott budman live in san jose with how some in the south bay are mobilizing. >> reporter: you're right, peggy. today's forecast has people here already cleaning out their gutters and wondering if the forecast el nino will be enough to help push back our drought. all signs point to a very wet winter in the bay area. which is why robert cole is working overtime. >> looks like it's going to be busy here, we're going to have a lot of rain. >> reporter: cole is cleaning gutters all over san jose, getting ready for what the national oceanic and atmospheric administration says will be a very wet el nino year for the

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